Teen Reflections 2021
One of my favorite things about being a returning member is getting to see the transformations the first years go through. I think back to the person I was before ASP and how drastically different I am now. Most of the time you don’t even realize the change that it's made on you until you get back home and start hanging out with your non-ASP friends. Because they don’t quite get it. And to be honest nobody really does until they go on the trip itself. For instance, our homeowner, Nikki, has five kids that just run around like nuts all day. They knock each other down, get back up and then do it all over again. And Nikki just watches them do this with the biggest smile on her face. The amount of patience this woman has truly amazes me. And even though the kids are young and they probably don’t know any better, they are so grateful for
everything they have. One of my favorite moments from the trip was sitting down with our staffer, Tyler, on Sunday evening and listening to all the great things he had to say about them. He described them as “The perfect ASP family. The family he wishes that he could give to every group”. And we learned very quickly that that was exactly true. We got to see that when a couple of the kids, Maggie and Memphis, helped us with our work. We built a porch so one of the first things we had to do was dig a hole to put the posts in and then fill that hole with dirt and gravel. So Maggie grabbed her little red wheelbarrow and filled it with gravel so she could dump it in the hole. While Memphis, who's younger, carried the rocks with his hands. And as they were helping us it made me think, wow, we’re strangers to them yet they are so willing to be with us and put so much trust into us. And I know that if I were them I would’ve been at least a little nervous. I mean to us we just seem like a regular group of high schoolers who don’t know that much about construction. But to them we’re like a saving grace sent from God himself. Unfortunately, we only got to spend a couple days with them because our homeowner Nikki had her fifth kid during the week. But even in such little time you could just tell that the amount of love in that family is overflowing. I’m forever grateful for being able to serve such an amazing family. And it's bonds like these ones that keep that special ASP feeling going strong long after farmers' tans fade and mosquito bites heal.
Every swing of the hammer on the worksite not only works to better the lives of those served in Appalachia but also all of us who served. Whether somebody had an idea of what they were getting into or not, the experience that ensues from the trip we all go on is nothing short of very special. Meetings almost all year and mandatory events like Memorial Day plus a group retreat sometimes feels like a bit of a burden for a trip that all of us had no idea what it was truly like going into our first year. Even for people who have gone more than once, it is hard to explain the journey we had during a trip just as good as the last. ASP is and will forever be a life changing experience. As a group, we are able to help change the lives of the families we serve by repairing important aspects of their homes but in addition, have a
chance at building relationships with the families. Not to mention a bond with our group mates. Overall, ASP allows us to do God's work but also work on ourselves. I am so thankful to have been part of this ministry and will forever cherish the memories I have from it.
With ASP comes a multitude of concerns, worries, and questions; yet the only question that crossed our minds in a crowded van at 4 in the morning was “what direction are we headed in?” I'm not particularly skilled in knowing where I am by following some blatant green highway signs, and in a case like this, not knowing which direction I was going served me better.
Weekday mornings at the center were livelier than I expected. It may have been the perpetual hum of box fans turned to their highest settings lulling us to a reenergizing sleep. Or, maybe, it was the anticipation to get outside and put those steel toe work boots to use that led us out of the center in such an animated fashion at 8 in the morning.
While sipping blue Gatorade and eating banana chips at lunch, we listened in awe of the stories our homeowner decided to share with us. Throughout her life, Betty always chose to head in the direction that would best support her loved ones. She took on the responsibilities of raising her children, her grandchildren, and now, her great-grandchildren. Devoting a week to make someone's living situation better is one crazy commitment, let alone devoting your life to the same matter. Knowing Betty for only a couple days was enough to motivate me into focusing every aspect of myself into the construction of a porch.
By the end of the week, we could finally answer our first proposed question: we were driving southeast. That morning we left, along with physical orientation, we were headed in a direction of change. With every year on the trip, we experience change. Whether it's a change in the way we see others or a change in the way we act, or even a change in the way we view cinder blocks, we keep that change throughout our lives. ASP is a trip that inspires change, and I'm glad to have chosen change this summer.
Initially, I didn’t want to do asp. I lacked experience with tools, everything was very hands on and it was making me nervous for the trip. I started getting excited for the trip after our “Labor Day” in the church parking lot because I had gotten a feel of what would happen on the trip, using tools, measuring, and getting help from my team when I would get stuck.
Fast forward to when we got to middle school on Sunday and found out that our project would be a porch. Later that night, I got to go on the home visit to meet the family we would be getting to work with, which was Betty and her two great-grandchildren Ashlynn, 8, and Leiland, 5. Betty was the sweetest woman I’ve ever met, and Ashlynn was so outgoing while Leiland was more shy but I already loved them. When we started our work on Monday everyone was ready and devoted to make sure we built the best porch we could for this family. Throughout the week I got to use so many different types of tools like all the drilling, a jigsaw, a circular saw, a god rod, and even a jackhammer for about 3 seconds. I never realized how much work went into building a porch until I was the one building it with my team. It was a lot of hard work, but it was worth it to see
the kids get excited to play on it and seeing Betty’s appreciative smile throughout it all. And it turned out to be the most leveled porch Bob had ever made because he just could not stop talking about it, you just had to be there.
It was then time to give gifts. We had purchased backpacks for the kids with school supplies in them, and a toy for each of them. They had the biggest smiles on their faces when opening their gifts. It was then Bettys turn when she had gotten a blood pressure monitor that she needed and flowers that we had set up on her porch. It was time to leave after playing with the kids and their new toys. It was sad saying goodbye but I was glad to know that I had some type of impact on this amazing family. In the end, I was so glad I got to do asp and have such a life changing experience.
Coming into the trip I wasn’t totally sure about it whether it be having expectations from the last trip or the two year break that made me forget how magical the trip was and feel very unmotivated to even go. But I sucked it up and went, on the drive down our van was very quiet. Once we got to the center and began the work week we finally began to create bonds, probably because the work was filthy. Going under the decks together really helped us grow together very quickly and I can’t really explain why. Ever since then the days started to shorten up and before we knew it it was friday. Our family was fantastic. Misty and Tony were very shy early in the week but once we were able to get them to come out for lunch our bond grew quickly, we learned about their great support system and the backstory of how they got to where they are today. On Friday giving them
their gifts was magical the kids were stoked about the small toys we got them and Misty cried at what we wrote in their card, as we were getting ready to leave she told us, “if you guys are ever in kentucky you can always stop by” and that is something that will always stick with me.